A piece of legislation known as the “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act” passed by an overwhelming margin in the House on July 23rd. It is poised to go to the Senate, where it remains to be seen if it will win approval. There has been a groundswell of support for GMO labeling laws, not just in Vermont but in other states like California and Oregon.
GMOs (genetically modified organisms) or GM crops now constitute about 90% of the commodity crops grown in the United States. They include corn, soybeans, Hawaii-grown papayas, and many processed food additives. The passing of this Act comes as a blow to states like Vermont and to consumers who want to know exactly what is in their food. In order to avoid GMO foods entirely, consumers must purchase organic products. Government organizations like the U.S.D.A. and the F.D.A. have a long history of capitulating to special interest groups like the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which counts among its members such corporate giants as Nestle and General Mills. They have clearly demonstrated their opposition to gmo labeling, mainly because it impacts their bottom line.
Thus far, 64 countries have required GMO labeling. GMOs have not been around long enough for scientists to be able to claim without a doubt that the genes incorporated into GM crops pose no harm to humans or animals. Gene splicing and conventional breeding techniques are not the same. Questions about allergic reactions and enhanced pesticide use will no doubt continue to fuel the debate about a consumer’s right to know which foods contain GMOs.
For more information, go to the Reuters article about gmo labeling. Concerned consumers may also want to check out Steven Drucker’s book “Altered Genes, Twisted Truth”.